HFA joins call for port efficiency

Image shows a container ship in a port

The Home Furnishings Association supports a push to break logjams at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California.

HFA joined the Harbor Trucking Association and other industry groups in a letter urging port leaders to address “major issues currently impacting the operations of the San Pedro Bay port complex and hurting the port’s competitiveness.”

The San Pedro Bay complex includes both ports. In 2019, furniture was the top containerized import shipped through the Port of Los Angeles, accounting for 529,872 TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units. That number marked a decrease of 50,000 TEUs from 2018, largely because of tariffs imposed on many home furnishings products imported from China. Still, furniture far outpaced automobile parts, apparel, footwear and electronics – the next-highest categories.

Delays at the port compound other supply chain snags caused by the effects of a worldwide pandemic. Many HFA members must tell customers that some of their orders may take weeks to deliver. But the Harbor Trucking Association believes some slowdowns are caused by poor policies and administration.

“Shippers continue to struggle with massive inefficiencies resulting in an increased cost of doing business when using the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” the letter says.

Port operations affect costs for many furniture retailers

Problems include a severe chassis shortage, trucker shortage and terminal congestion. A restrictive appointment system makes it “increasingly more difficult to pick up and drop off containers during the allotted free time,” the letter asserts.

Recommendations for improvement include:

  • Allowing truckers to drop off empty containers at terminals where they also can pick up loaded containers, thus increasing “dual transactions.”
  • Having from three to seven days’ notice of gate closures – and no closures occurring mid-shift.
  • Working to develop strategies and best practices to reduce costs for shippers, increase gate productivity and decrease the carbon footprint of operations.
  • Adopting consistent policies across both Los Angeles and Long Beach port jurisdictions.

The HFA’s Government Relations Action Team strongly backs the Harbor Trucking Association’s position. HFA’s trucking partners are key components in the home furnishings supply chain. When they operate efficiently, retailers and their customers pay less for products.

Port volume remains lower than in 2019

Delays are ongoing despite continued reductions in traffic through the ports.

“July was good – 24 percent better than June – at the Port of Los Angeles, but volume was still down 6.11 percent year-over-year,” Laufer Group International reported Aug. 19.

“The Port of LA moved 856,389 twenty-foot equivalent units in July compared to 912,154 TEUs in the same month in 2019. That brought the port’s seven-month total to 4,618,278 TEUs, down 15.3 percent from the 5,450,793 TEUs recorded between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2019.”

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